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17209Legion of Justice: Rough Homecoming

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  • ddswanson
    Mar 16, 2014
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      Legion of Justice Prologue

       

      I. Back to the Future  1

      II, New Home, Just Like the Old Home       4

      III. Think BEFORE You Jump!          6

       

      I. Back to the Future

      Legion of Justice: A Rough Homecoming

       

      I. Back to the Future  

      II, New Home, Just Like the Old Home    


      I. Back to the Future

      "OK, team, just like we rehearsed it. Time Jump in 5 minutes!" Gina Lance, a.k.a. the super heroine Canary and leader of the Legion of Justice, looked around at her teammates. The golden-clad blonde was proud of her teammates. They had some personality conflicts – especially hers with Drake ‘Greenfire’ Burroughs, but when there was a problem that needed the whole team to solve it, they worked together like a machine. ‘They better!’ she thought, ‘or they’ll be in SO much trouble!’

       

      The Legion was gathered in the main control room of their asteroid headquarters, Knight Base. Some were busy and some idle, some were calm and some were nervous, but they were all excited. They were about to pilot Knight Base through the time stream from 1988 into the late 23rd century. The Legion was going home! Or as near to home as they could ever get, here in this new timeline. And they had almost no idea what they might encounter.

       

      A couple of weeks ago, the Legion of Justice had traveled back in time from the year 2285 to 1985 and foiled a plot by the immortal villain Vandal Savage and his servant robot Futura to destroy the Justice Society of America. In doing so, they had altered their own past significantly, to the extent that they would never be able to return to the time they knew.

       

      One of their scientist members, Rexford Tyler, also known as Timepiece, insisted that their time tampering had actually wiped their own timeline totally from existence: it didn’t exist and never had existed. Nothing remained of it but their memories. Drake, who was also an accomplished physicist, theorized that their actions had spawned a new, alternate timeline, and shifted them out of their original timeline into the new one – and though they couldn't return to the original, it was still 'out there', somewhere, 'alongside' their own, like the rails of a train track. Both scientists agreed, though, that it had been the recent Crisis on Infinite Earths which had weakened the temporal framework of the universe enough to allow their actions in the past to change their own history – and that similarly changing the past would never be as easy again, as the after effects of the Crisis died out with the passage of time. And they both agreed that regardless of which theory was correct, they would never again be able to return to their timeline of origin.

       

      Emotions ran high among the proponents of these two mutually exclusive theories. Rex's brother, Randall (Hourboy) was particularly outspoken against Rex's theory: "So what does that make us, then? Ghosts that just popped into existence at random, all of us at the same time and with shared memories? Figure out the probability of that! You might think Mom and Dad never existed but I know better. Even if they don't exist any more, they did once! We aren't just time ghosts with no past." Rex’s ‘never was’ theory probably hit Rand the hardest, as his super power was to become a 'time ghost'. He and Rex would probably have come to blows if Canary hadn't intervened.

       

      A few hours earlier, Greenfire and Theresa (Star Lass) Knight had returned from a quick scouting trip to their new future. Knight Base asteroid was currently orbiting Earth's sun in the Asteroid Belt in 1986, and the Legion couldn't take the chance that when they popped into the 23rd century, their own 800 mile diameter miniature world would materialize in the same space as some other giant rock. The two energy-wielding heroes hadn't spent a lot of time in the future, just long enough to pick out an empty volume of space in the midst of the Asteroid Belt and to make sure they weren't jumping into a war zone or a busy space lane. Gernsbeck, their supercomputer ally created by Rex, assured them that he could navigate accurately through time and space and emerge precisely in the safe location the two scouts had selected. Despite Beck’s past successes navigating through time and space, Canary still wasn’t totally convinced.

       

      After their recent experience as outlaws, the Legion was hoping that emerging in the Asteroid Belt, rather than nearer to Earth, would conceal their arrival in the future, at least long enough for them to become familiar with their new milieu. Wherever and whenever they arrived, they would need to stay – they had vowed, as a group, to give up time travel after this one last trip. The Legion's intervention in the history of their own timeline had already had serious consequences. First, they had been thrust out of their original timeline into one in which their actions had precipitated a war in 1986 in which all human life on Earth had been wiped out. And then, by purest luck, their subsequent intervention had created still another timeline, their current timeline, in which they had managed to divert that war,  They didn't dare take a risk of destroying this latest timeline as they had the last two they’d been in!

       

      *****

       

      After all their planning and rehearsals, the time jump wasn’t very dramatic. Gernsbeck chanted a countdown for the final 12 seconds, but instead of announcing ‘Zero’, he reported “Time Translation Initiated”. The Legionnaires felt an internal ‘bump’, similar to that experienced when Rex/Timepiece used his powers to take them uptime, and the star field on the external monitors blinked out, replaced by featureless gray. “Breakout in 40 seconds”, Gernsbeck added shortly afterward.

       

      “OK, team, on your toes – we don’t know what we’ll find!” Canary reminded her teammates. Everyone expected a quiet, safe ‘reentry’, but Canary _was_ a belt-and-suspenders type gal, after all – and the Legion was tired of being caught unprepared by surprises.

       

      Another quiet Gernsbeck 12 second countdown, ‘Breakout’ and another internal ‘thump’, and it was done. To the unaided eye, the star field that popped onto the screen was indistinguishable to the earlier view. “Welcome to the new 23rd century!” the intelligent computer announced complacently.

       

      “Status!” Canary snapped out the order. “Rex, Theresa, Drake, don’t be shy!”

       

      The 3 scientists studied their arrays of complex instruments intently, seeking verification of their current location, date and orbit. Though Genrsbeck had insisted stridently that there was no reason for independent human verification of their arrival data, Canary had hitched up her proverbial suspenders and insisted.

       

      For years, Rex Tyler, Timepiece, had been confined to a float chair which totally encased him below the waist, unable to use any of his limbs and totally dependent on the chair's clumsy built-in prosthetics. Today his newly designed exoskeleton allowed him to manually manipulate his control panel, and his fingers flashed across his keyboard with speed and precision that couldn't be matched by an unaugmented human. And he got his answer first.

       

       “July 4, 2285”, Rex reported proudly. “Same day this whole thing started*. Just as we planned.”

       

      *see “Showcase: The Legion of Justice”, http://www.5earths.info/earth-2/showcase-e2-legionofjustice2285/

       

      Theresa "Star Lass” Knight had a miniature Cosmic Rod surgically grafted into her nervous system that allowed her to sense and control ambient cosmic radiation. And, perhaps due to her family's long association with the Cosmic Rod, she had the innate power to sense and to some extent control the local gravitational field. Utilizing her senses to direct Knight Base's own ultrapowerful sensors gave a quick answer to her assigned task.

       

      “129 degrees, 257,491,050 miles, +/- 5%, -34,250 miles +/- 10%,” Theresa called out enthusiastically, her numbers denoting their location in solar coordinates – 129 degrees clockwise around the sun from the imaginary line between the sun and the galactic center, ~260 million miles from the sun, about 34,000 miles below the plane of the ecliptic. “Bulls eye!”

       

      Drake Burroughs, usually called Greenfire, had been a top-flight apprentice physicist before the 'accidental' explosion that had left his disembodied mind in control of the mystical green energy of the Starheart, the meteor that the legendary Green Lantern had used to construct and energize his Power Ring. Now he needed a containment suit to keep his energy from dissipating. Even after a year in the Legion, he was still learning to use his powers – perhaps he was hampered by his natural scientific distrust of magic. He framed a mental command to his energy in precise scientific notation, and was a bit surprised when an answer he could understand popped into his head. A quick check of his instruments verified it.

       

      “Our orbital vector is exactly on the mark, bird lady,” Drake confirmed. “Looks like everything’s right on the beam!”

       

      “THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about!” Canary exclaimed triumphantly. “And DON’T call me that!” She would have sworn there was the faintest mocking green smile on Drake’s faceplate.

       

      In a whisper that was easily heard by everyone on the room, the tiny Chemique said to the large gleaming figure next to her: “You owe me 5 credbits, Goldy!”

       

      “I’m good for it – if we ever get paid!” Sandy, the Golden boy replied calmly. What little money the Legion had, mostly Sentinel Gate credbits, would likely be worthless in this new era. If they needed anything they didn’t already have, they were going to have to build it or barter for it – assuming they could find someone to barter with. It might be a long time before any of them got paid!

       

      “Belay that, you two!” Canary snapped, but without any bite. “Thanks, Gernsbeck!”

       

      “Perhaps in the future you will no longer think it necessary to double check my results,” Gernsbeck replied, sounding smug. Ever since his computing power had been exponentially expanded by his migration to the Knight Base supercomputer from the much smaller computer built into Rex’s float chair, he had become increasingly skilled at verbally conveying human emotion. In a tone that could almost be called a whine, he continued. “I realize that humans have a fundamental paranoid distrust of computers that you mischaracterize as 'caution, but after repeated confirmation…"

       

      “OK, Beck, you’ve made your point.” To the rest of the Legion: “OK, let’s find out more about our new home! As we planned, by the numbers, hop to it!”

      II, New Home, Just Like the Old Home

       

      As the scout team had verified, space around them was awash with radio waves carrying analog and digital information. Gernsbeck’s job was to locate the most powerful signal sources, decipher and encode the signals into format the Legion’s consoles could handle, and then route these signals to the consoles of the various Legionnaires. The Legionnaire would attempt to categorize their particular signals and then reroute them to the assigned analysis for each category. As the first signals started coming in, there was a flurry of activity, as programming was categorized and rerouted, and then, when their consoles’ memory capacities were reached, each settled down to analysis.

       

      Anything of historical interest was rerouted to Cathy, possible dangers were routed to Rand and Gina for threat analysis, and anything that suggested non-humans was routed to Horus, Wildcat and Sandy. Greenfire, and Rex took science and technology, and Tim and Theresa were looking for indicators of everyday life.

       

      After a half an hour of study, Cathy gave them all a crash course in history, “Technology advanced rapidly after we left the 20th century, especially in the area of computing. Perhaps too rapidly. Around 2035 or so, some kind of threshold was crossed and computers became sentient and self-directing – and started assuming control of all the societies in the Solar System. Eventually, the organic species rebelled, and there was a devastating war, the AI war, lasting nearly 50 years, until the last self-aware computer was eradicated. Intelligent computers were outlawed in the Solar System; a ban that still stands. Heroic computers such as the Red Tornado fled to the stars. Since then, technology has recovered and is approximately equivalent to the era we left, with the exception that only specialized, severely limited automation is allowed. If Gernsbeck were revealed to the current civilization, we would become outlaws and he would be destroyed!”

       

      She hesitated to let that sink in. “The presence of a universal enemy forced the organics to unite to form the Solar Alliance, and the Solar System has generally been peaceful since the end of the AI War. Around 2100, the Solar Union joined with a number of worlds to form the loose Association of Worlds, and there is now considerable commerce among the members and associates of the AoW. Unfortunately, from the Sol system’s point of view, there are a number of machine civilizations associated with the AoW, so humanity’s relationship with the Association is not friction-free.”

       

      “A number of civilizations which we know from our own time are members of the Confederation,” Sandy added. “I guess this isn’t unexpected – although we made significant changes to Earth’s history, it seems likely that the farther you get from Earth, the lesser the effects of the change will be. In particular, my homeworld of Aurelia and the Empire of Elaigar (Wildcat’s home) are both members, though I haven’t seen any mention of either Challenger or myself in the small sampling of extrasolar news we’ve gathered so far. Other associates include the Dominants, the Comptrollers, Juneo, Thoron, Xenon, Sentinel Gate, the Protectorate of Free Planets and Zor.

       

      Tim joined in with enthusiasm. “One thing that’s WAY different on Earth is…”

       

      He never got to finish. An alarm started blaring and Gernsback interrupted. “Some things never change.” It sounded like he would have signed, if he’d been human. “Knight Base is under attack!”

       

      At that instant, the station shook violently as if in an earthquake. The normal quiet background hum of Knight Base’s big nuclear reactor became louder and deeper, and the earthquake stopped. In the external view screens, Gina could see flashes as deadly energy bursts and laser beams impacted on the Base’s powerful force shield.

       

      Legion of Justice Prologue

       

      I. Back to the Future  1

      II, New Home, Just Like the Old Home       4

      III. Think BEFORE You Jump!          6

       

      I. Back to the Future

       

      "OK, team, just like we rehearsed it. Time Jump in 5 minutes!" Gina Lance, a.k.a. the super heroine Canary and leader of the Legion of Justice, looked around at her teammates. The golden-clad blonde was proud of her teammates. They had some personality conflicts – especially hers with Drake ‘Greenfire’ Burroughs, but when there was a problem that needed the whole team to solve it, they worked together like a machine. ‘They better!’ she thought, ‘or they’ll be in SO much trouble!’

       

      The Legion was gathered in the main control room of their asteroid headquarters, Knight Base. Some were busy and some idle, some were calm and some were nervous, but they were all excited. They were about to pilot Knight Base through the time stream from 1988 into the late 23rd century. The Legion was going home! Or as near to home as they could ever get, here in this new timeline. And they had almost no idea what they might encounter.

       

      A couple of weeks ago, the Legion of Justice had traveled back in time from the year 2285 to 1985 and foiled a plot by the immortal villain Vandal Savage and his servant robot Futura to destroy the Justice Society of America. In doing so, they had altered their own past significantly, to the extent that they would never be able to return to the time they knew.

       

      One of their scientist members, Rexford Tyler, also known as Timepiece, insisted that their time tampering had actually wiped their own timeline totally from existence: it didn’t exist and never had existed. Nothing remained of it but their memories. Drake, who was also an accomplished physicist, theorized that their actions had spawned a new, alternate timeline, and shifted them out of their original timeline into the new one – and though they couldn't return to the original, it was still 'out there', somewhere, 'alongside' their own, like the rails of a train track. Both scientists agreed, though, that it had been the recent Crisis on Infinite Earths which had weakened the temporal framework of the universe enough to allow their actions in the past to change their own history – and that similarly changing the past would never be as easy again, as the after effects of the Crisis died out with the passage of time. And they both agreed that regardless of which theory was correct, they would never again be able to return to their timeline of origin.

       

      Emotions ran high among the proponents of these two mutually exclusive theories. Rex's brother, Randall (Hourboy) was particularly outspoken against Rex's theory: "So what does that make us, then? Ghosts that just popped into existence at random, all of us at the same time and with shared memories? Figure out the probability of that! You might think Mom and Dad never existed but I know better. Even if they don't exist any more, they did once! We aren't just time ghosts with no past." Rex’s ‘never was’ theory probably hit Rand the hardest, as his super power was to become a 'time ghost'. He and Rex would probably have come to blows if Canary hadn't intervened.

       

      A few hours earlier, Greenfire and Theresa (Star Lass) Knight had returned from a quick scouting trip to their new future. Knight Base asteroid was currently orbiting Earth's sun in the Asteroid Belt in 1986, and the Legion couldn't take the chance that when they popped into the 23rd century, their own 800 mile diameter miniature world would materialize in the same space as some other giant rock. The two energy-wielding heroes hadn't spent a lot of time in the future, just long enough to pick out an empty volume of space in the midst of the Asteroid Belt and to make sure they weren't jumping into a war zone or a busy space lane. Gernsbeck, their supercomputer ally created by Rex, assured them that he could navigate accurately through time and space and emerge precisely in the safe location the two scouts had selected. Despite Beck’s past successes navigating through time and space, Canary still wasn’t totally convinced.

       

      After their recent experience as outlaws, the Legion was hoping that emerging in the Asteroid Belt, rather than nearer to Earth, would conceal their arrival in the future, at least long enough for them to become familiar with their new milieu. Wherever and whenever they arrived, they would need to stay – they had vowed, as a group, to give up time travel after this one last trip. The Legion's intervention in the history of their own timeline had already had serious consequences. First, they had been thrust out of their original timeline into one in which their actions had precipitated a war in 1986 in which all human life on Earth had been wiped out. And then, by purest luck, their subsequent intervention had created still another timeline, their current timeline, in which they had managed to divert that war,  They didn't dare take a risk of destroying this latest timeline as they had the last two they’d been in!

       

      *****

       

      After all their planning and rehearsals, the time jump wasn’t very dramatic. Gernsbeck chanted a countdown for the final 12 seconds, but instead of announcing ‘Zero’, he reported “Time Translation Initiated”. The Legionnaires felt an internal ‘bump’, similar to that experienced when Rex/Timepiece used his powers to take them uptime, and the star field on the external monitors blinked out, replaced by featureless gray. “Breakout in 40 seconds”, Gernsbeck added shortly afterward.

       

      “OK, team, on your toes – we don’t know what we’ll find!” Canary reminded her teammates. Everyone expected a quiet, safe ‘reentry’, but Canary _was_ a belt-and-suspenders type gal, after all – and the Legion was tired of being caught unprepared by surprises.

       

      Another quiet Gernsbeck 12 second countdown, ‘Breakout’ and another internal ‘thump’, and it was done. To the unaided eye, the star field that popped onto the screen was indistinguishable to the earlier view. “Welcome to the new 23rd century!” the intelligent computer announced complacently.

       

      “Status!” Canary snapped out the order. “Rex, Theresa, Drake, don’t be shy!”

       

      The 3 scientists studied their arrays of complex instruments intently, seeking verification of their current location, date and orbit. Though Genrsbeck had insisted stridently that there was no reason for independent human verification of their arrival data, Canary had hitched up her proverbial suspenders and insisted.

       

      For years, Rex Tyler, Timepiece, had been confined to a float chair which totally encased him below the waist, unable to use any of his limbs and totally dependent on the chair's clumsy built-in prosthetics. Today his newly designed exoskeleton allowed him to manually manipulate his control panel, and his fingers flashed across his keyboard with speed and precision that couldn't be matched by an unaugmented human. And he got his answer first.

       

       “July 4, 2285”, Rex reported proudly. “Same day this whole thing started*. Just as we planned.”

       

      *see “Showcase: The Legion of Justice”, http://www.5earths.info/earth-2/showcase-e2-legionofjustice2285/

       

      Theresa "Star Lass” Knight had a miniature Cosmic Rod surgically grafted into her nervous system that allowed her to sense and control ambient cosmic radiation. And, perhaps due to her family's long association with the Cosmic Rod, she had the innate power to sense and to some extent control the local gravitational field. Utilizing her senses to direct Knight Base's own ultrapowerful sensors gave a quick answer to her assigned task.

       

      “129 degrees, 257,491,050 miles, +/- 5%, -34,250 miles +/- 10%,” Theresa called out enthusiastically, her numbers denoting their location in solar coordinates – 129 degrees clockwise around the sun from the imaginary line between the sun and the galactic center, ~260 million miles from the sun, about 34,000 miles below the plane of the ecliptic. “Bulls eye!”

       

      Drake Burroughs, usually called Greenfire, had been a top-flight apprentice physicist before the 'accidental' explosion that had left his disembodied mind in control of the mystical green energy of the Starheart, the meteor that the legendary Green Lantern had used to construct and energize his Power Ring. Now he needed a containment suit to keep his energy from dissipating. Even after a year in the Legion, he was still learning to use his powers – perhaps he was hampered by his natural scientific distrust of magic. He framed a mental command to his energy in precise scientific notation, and was a bit surprised when an answer he could understand popped into his head. A quick check of his instruments verified it.

       

      “Our orbital vector is exactly on the mark, bird lady,” Drake confirmed. “Looks like everything’s right on the beam!”

       

      “THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about!” Canary exclaimed triumphantly. “And DON’T call me that!” She would have sworn there was the faintest mocking green smile on Drake’s faceplate.

       

      In a whisper that was easily heard by everyone on the room, the tiny Chemique said to the large gleaming figure next to her: “You owe me 5 credbits, Goldy!”

       

      “I’m good for it – if we ever get paid!” Sandy, the Golden boy replied calmly. What little money the Legion had, mostly Sentinel Gate credbits, would likely be worthless in this new era. If they needed anything they didn’t already have, they were going to have to build it or barter for it – assuming they could find someone to barter with. It might be a long time before any of them got paid!

       

      “Belay that, you two!” Canary snapped, but without any bite. “Thanks, Gernsbeck!”

       

      “Perhaps in the future you will no longer think it necessary to double check my results,” Gernsbeck replied, sounding smug. Ever since his computing power had been exponentially expanded by his migration to the Knight Base supercomputer from the much smaller computer built into Rex’s float chair, he had become increasingly skilled at verbally conveying human emotion. In a tone that could almost be called a whine, he continued. “I realize that humans have a fundamental paranoid distrust of computers that you mischaracterize as 'caution, but after repeated confirmation…"

       

      “OK, Beck, you’ve made your point.” To the rest of the Legion: “OK, let’s find out more about our new home! As we planned, by the numbers, hop to it!”

      II, New Home, Just Like the Old Home

       

      As the scout team had verified, space around them was awash with radio waves carrying analog and digital information. Gernsbeck’s job was to locate the most powerful signal sources, decipher and encode the signals into format the Legion’s consoles could handle, and then route these signals to the consoles of the various Legionnaires. The Legionnaire would attempt to categorize their particular signals and then reroute them to the assigned analysis for each category. As the first signals started coming in, there was a flurry of activity, as programming was categorized and rerouted, and then, when their consoles’ memory capacities were reached, each settled down to analysis.

       

      Anything of historical interest was rerouted to Cathy, possible dangers were routed to Rand and Gina for threat analysis, and anything that suggested non-humans was routed to Horus, Wildcat and Sandy. Greenfire, and Rex took science and technology, and Tim and Theresa were looking for indicators of everyday life.

       

      After a half an hour of study, Cathy gave them all a crash course in history, “Technology advanced rapidly after we left the 20th century, especially in the area of computing. Perhaps too rapidly. Around 2035 or so, some kind of threshold was crossed and computers became sentient and self-directing – and started assuming control of all the societies in the Solar System. Eventually, the organic species rebelled, and there was a devastating war, the AI war, lasting nearly 50 years, until the last self-aware computer was eradicated. Intelligent computers were outlawed in the Solar System; a ban that still stands. Heroic computers such as the Red Tornado fled to the stars. Since then, technology has recovered and is approximately equivalent to the era we left, with the exception that only specialized, severely limited automation is allowed. If Gernsbeck were revealed to the current civilization, we would become outlaws and he would be destroyed!”

       

      She hesitated to let that sink in. “The presence of a universal enemy forced the organics to unite to form the Solar Alliance, and the Solar System has generally been peaceful since the end of the AI War. Around 2100, the Solar Union joined with a number of worlds to form the loose Association of Worlds, and there is now considerable commerce among the members and associates of the AoW. Unfortunately, from the Sol system’s point of view, there are a number of machine civilizations associated with the AoW, so humanity’s relationship with the Association is not friction-free.”

       

      “A number of civilizations which we know from our own time are members of the Confederation,” Sandy added. “I guess this isn’t unexpected – although we made significant changes to Earth’s history, it seems likely that the farther you get from Earth, the lesser the effects of the change will be. In particular, my homeworld of Aurelia and the Empire of Elaigar (Wildcat’s home) are both members, though I haven’t seen any mention of either Challenger or myself in the small sampling of extrasolar news we’ve gathered so far. Other associates include the Dominants, the Comptrollers, Juneo, Thoron, Xenon, Sentinel Gate, the Protectorate of Free Planets and Zor.

       

      Tim joined in with enthusiasm. “One thing that’s WAY different on Earth is…”

       

      He never got to finish. An alarm started blaring and Gernsback interrupted. “Some things never change.” It sounded like he would have signed, if he’d been human. “Knight Base is under attack!”

       

      At that instant, the station shook violently as if in an earthquake. The normal quiet background hum of Knight Base’s big nuclear reactor became louder and deeper, and the earthquake stopped. In the external view screens, Gina could see flashes as deadly energy bursts and laser beams impacted on the Base’s powerful force shield.

       

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